Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Thank you Penguin Random House International for sending the ARC for ‘Ayesha At Last’ through Net Galley. It comes out on 4th June 2019.

WhatsApp Image 2019-05-21 at 10.40.19 PM

Synopsis: 

A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

Via NetGalley

My Thoughts:

WhatsApp Image 2019-05-21 at 10.40.59 PM

Pride and Prejudice (PnP) is one of my favorite classics and I have read it multiple times. A PnP retelling with a muslim cast is always fun to read and this is my second one for this year. I was highly disappointed with ‘Unmarriagable’, which made me hesitant to pick this book up. But I did and was pleasantly surprised.

Uzma does a great job of keeping true to the community she is writing about and I loved her characters (well some of them). Let’s look at what I liked first:

  1. The grandparents: they are the most adorable nana and nani ever! I love them together and individually.
  2. The interactions between Ayesha and Khalid: In every retelling of PnP and the original itself I have enjoyed reading the interaction between the two protagonists the most.
  3. Ayesha is a Hijabi: I am little biased in this one (being a hijabi myself) but it’s so refreshing to read about a girl who wears the hijab. Stories written from a hijabi’s perspective can show people that we (girls wearing hijabs) are more than that, we have hopes and dreams and most importantly we are not oppressed!
  4. Khalid’s sister: This was a shining star moment for the story! I don’t want to spoil much for the readers but her ending made me smile.
  5. The food: the parathas and curries and the love for Chai was so familiar and mouthwatering 😍😍

Things I didn’t like:

  1. The second half: after about 55% of the book, the story becomes like an Indian soap opera, with vicious aunties and dramatic revelations. It was not a page turner when that started happening and I finished it just out of curiosity.
  2. The side characters: All the young men Khalid interacts with. I don’t think they served any major purpose, Amir was a tad bit annoying and they could have been eliminated.

I rated this book 3.5 stars. Uzma’s writing is easy to read and her story flows smoothly. I would love to read what she writes next. ‘Ayesha At Last’ comes out on 4th June 2019 by Berkley Publishing Group in USA. A special shoutout to Berkley for always publishing diversified books!

 

Advertisements
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Taherah Mafi

There is so much on my mind after reading Taherah Mafi’s latest book that I am unable to accumulate my thoughts. Before I begin my review I would like for you to know a few things about me; I am a hijabi, I don’t live in US and I have never been a victim of racism (I have travelled outside my home country).

WhatsApp Image 2018-11-16 at 3.48.03 PM

Synopsis:

“It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.”

Via Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I can never compare to the experiences of all those who were and still are being harassed for the religious choices that they have made. So I will take this book in the other direction, which is of people having presumptions about why a muslim girl wears a hijab or what kind of a person she is because she wears a hijab or what kind of a family she belongs to because she wears a hijab.

I know not everyone is like that, but some people often make assumptions about an individual, instead of making an effort to find out who the real person is. Similarly the students of Shirin’s high school assumed that her parents forced this upon her. Shirin was looked in a different light until she showed the students that she is more than the piece of cloth covering her head. As a hijabi, I go through the same thing but on a lighter note; when someone finds out that I am an avid reader or have a blog or I am a fitness instructor, it comes as a shock to them. People can’t seem to think beyond appearances.

I didn’t agree with some of the things Shirin said about clothing choices but then again that’s my religious preference and I don’t impose it on others. I am not a perfect muslim girl, I have my own flaws and hence I’m no one to judge someone else on their beliefs. I think that’s exactly what this book tells us amongst many other things. For instance, Ocean didn’t care about whether she wore a hijab or what religion she followed, he fell in love with the girl she was. I was in awe of Shirin’s strength. Her journey was not an easy one but she never gave up on her faith and I wish I could hug her.

I loved Taherah’s writing. It has a power to pull the reader completely in its story. It was difficult to put this book down and I read it slowing just to make the book last longer. One of my favorite quotes from the book is when Shirin said “It gives the bullies power [if she took off the hijab]. It would mean they’d succeeded making me feel like who I was and what I believed in was something to be ashamed of.” 

Taherah Mafi you stole my heart with this book and I am so glad I made the decision to read it.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Thank you Penguin Random House Global for sending me the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Jasmine Guillory’s book The Wedding Date has been on my TBR since it came out, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on it yet. So when I got the chance to review ‘The Proposal’, I started reading right away!

Synopsis:

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes.

Via Goodreads 

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-28 at 2.14.26 PM

My Thoughts:

ADORABLE. I simply loved this book. I started reading it in the morning and was done with it by dinner time. If things like food, bathroom breaks and family time wouldn’t have gotten in the way, I would have finished it earlier. The reader might think that a proposal will be at the end of this story but you are in for a surprise because its the other way around.

What I really liked about this story was how it was not only the love story between Nic and Carlos, but also about strong independent women, who have careers and ambitions. I wish there was a class called ‘Punch it like a girl’ here in my country, maybe I should start one? I throughly enjoyed reading everybody’s back stories specially Natalie’s.

It’s always a treat to read a book where the love story has some realistic twists in it and the girl just doesn’t fall into the guy’s arms as soon as he says those three words because that’s not how real life happens.

Jasmine’s writing flows easily, it will make you love, laugh, mad and SUPER hungry. Not necessarily in that order but it’s a book not to be missed. It will be published on 30th October 2018.

Mark it for your TBRs readers! Until next time.

Happy Reading 🙂

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Bear Town by Fredrick Backman

When choosing which books to read, sometimes I pick them up based on what the story is about and other times its just a book which has been talked a lot about but I don’t know anything about it; Bear Town is an example of the latter.

IMG_1082

Fredrick’s books have been the most talked about books on book-stagram and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Being unable to find the book in my city, my sister came to the rescue and got it for me from one of her business trips outside Karachi.

Synopsis:

“People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.”

Via Goodreads

WARNING: If you haven’t read this book yet, please proceed with caution as this review contains spoilers.

My Thoughts: 

I am not a sports person and Bear Town turned out to be a Hockey town. At first, I was not happy with the constant discussions about Hockey and its players. But the story is much more than that.

It talks about family losses, friendship, family dynamics, sibling relations and always prioritizing the team first, no matter what happens. This town’s focus on Hockey makes them blind to the other things happening around them. Winning is the only goal they work towards, regardless of what or who they lose in the process.

Maya is a strong girl who cares for the people she loves. Even when she makes the hardest decision of her life, she still cares more about how she is hurting her family and friends. But she does it because she is strong enough to have that conscience and standing up for herself.

This is a story of a small town and readers might think that with the advent of technology and awareness, getting away with rape or standing up for a girl is now easier but it’s not. These things happen in bigger cities too, where the victim is always looked upon instead of the person who committed the crime. It maybe a fictional story but it relates to the real world a lot.

This topic is not a new one, but it was a different book for me and I took time to finish it but I am really glad I did. Fredrick talks about real relationships, he goes in depth of how there are different families in a society and even the most perfect ones are imperfect from the inside. The story will tell you the sometimes the strongest of people are actually weak from inside and vice versa.

I throughly enjoyed reading Bear Town and would love to read more of Fredrick’s books. These books are available at bookstores across Pakistan.

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Series Review

Comic Books by AZCORP Entertainment: Sheeba and the Private Detectives

AZCORP Entertainment was kind enough to send me their new comic book series: Sheeba and the Private Detectives, in return for an honest review.

It’s a Pakistani company which publishes comic books for children which are not only fun to read but are extremely informative. These stories are based in Pakistan which makes it easier to relate to them.

In my experience of working in a school I have noticed that our curriculum has a shortage of books or stories which are close to our own culture and tell us more about our country. This initiative by AZCORP, to impart knowledge about Pakistan to children in a fun way is commendable.

WhatsApp Image 2018-07-20 at 3.09.09 PM

I received the series Sheeba and the Private Detectives. This story is about a group of friends who meet by chance and then go on to solve small mysteries. There are four issues currently and each was based in a different city.

Each issue/comic book has a topic of interest. For example, when they visit the Zoo because animals kept disappearing, the story not only tells the reader what happened at the zoo but also educates them on each type of animal and their attributes.

At the end of each comic book there are some activities related to the story and a glossary for new words. This series is based on the national curriculum of Grade 2 to 5. I know these are not traditional story books that every child is recommended to pick up in school but it should not be missed out. I think every child should read them and get to know about our country.

Follow them on Instagram : AZCORP Comics

Website: http://www.azcorpentertainment.com

For further details on where to buy these comics, contacts them on the above mentioned links.

Until then Happy Reading 🙂

Posted in Book Reviews, Series Review

Series Review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han

After watching the trailer for ‘To All The Boys I Loved Before’, the upcoming Netflix original, I really wanted to read the books. It took me three days to finish three books and I am in love with these books!

Since it’s a series, I will be posting the synopsis of the first one only and review the series in its entirety below.

Synopsis:

“What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.”

Via Goodreads

WARNING: If you haven’t read this series yet, please proceed with caution as this review contains spoilers.

My Thoughts:

This book made me crave all sort of carbs, specially donuts and chocolate chip cookies. This book is not for those who wish to loose weight, fair warning it will make you extremely hungry. Not only that I also now wish you try out Korean masks and other beauty treatments. I think this series has spoiled me.

I adore Lara Jean, she is not an introvert but also not that outgoing, but somewhere in the middle. Jenny Han has captured the relationship of the Song sisters so aptly, I loved getting to know them. Especially Kitty, I like how easily she switches between being a child and adult.

Peter has become my latest book boyfriend, he has his faults but his heart is always in the right place. Their (Peter and Lara Jean) relationship is not perfect and doesn’t go as planned. It has its own ups and downs but that’s what makes it normal.

WhatsApp Image 2018-07-10 at 4.58.40 PMThe second book was my favorite, and the last line that Peter says on her birthday before she leaves with John made me swoon *insert blushing*

“.. When I get you back, I’m gonna put that necklace back around your neck and pin you”
“Like in the 1950’s. Remember Lara Jean?”

The third book is all about their senior year and how they are going to deal with long distance since they both will be going to college. This one was my least favorite because there were so many misunderstandings between Peter and Lara Jean. Plus I felt like this series could have easily been a duology (please don’t kill me) as the second book ended on a pretty good note.

Overall this series was adorable and I throughly enjoyed binge reading them. Can’t wait for the Netflix movie! Plus it’s another great recommendation for a summer/beachy read for you guys!

If you are like me and prefer books to movies, then do read the series before the movie comes out! For Pakistani readers, the series is available at Liberty Book and Readings (Lahore).

Until next time !

Happy Reading 🙂

Posted in Book Reviews, Series Review

Series Review: Babes of Brighton Series by Laura Barnard

If you are looking for the perfect book to read this summer while at the beach or by the pool side, then look no further. Laura Barnard writes the most sweetest romance novels. They are funny, emotional and sexy stories about friendship, heartbreaks and second chances. I am so lucky that she sent me her books for an honest review and great news she is writing the third book in the series right now!

Each book can be read as a stand alone novel but if you are like me and would like to know a bit more about the characters, then read both the books 🙂

Synopsis:

2C0AA798-8219-496E-83D8-829CE2FFB56DBook 1: Excess Baggage

Stuck in a dead-end relationship, Erica Bennett finds herself daydreaming of her first holiday romance. She was fifteen, it was exciting, new and full of possibilities…and Jack Lawson was hot as hell. That kind of thing leaves a mark.
So when her friends suggest a girls holiday to Luna Island, it’s exactly what she needs to take her mind off things. What she doesn’t expect is to spot Jack – a much older, hotter version of him – across the hotel lobby.
Their attraction is still there and it isn’t long before sparks fly, but fifteen years is a long time. They aren’t the same people they were back then and besides, it’s only a week, right?

Book 2: Love Uncovered 

Independent woman to her core, Brooke Archer has always been happy to hit it and quit it with the men in her life. But when her beloved Nan suffers from poor health, Brooke realises just how precious life is and decides it’s time to face her daddy issues and seek out her estranged father. Without so much as a name or photo, and a cagey Mum withholding vital information, it’s going to be no easy task.
Nicholas Parker is a relationship guy and always has been. Abandoned by his mum when he was seven he craves love and security. But finding a woman who can conquer his trust issues is no easy feat. Brooke is exactly the kind of woman he doesn’t need.
Pulled together by some invisible force, can Brooke and Nicholas overcome their differences to uncover true love?

Via Goodreads

My Thoughts: 

Book 1: Excess Baggage

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Erica was so natural and imperfect and that’s what made her so relatable. Laura’s writing has a great flow to it and you can read the book one sitting. But in that one sitting only she will make you laugh, smile and sigh. It is a light book with some great characters. The only thing which was difficult to accept was the ending, where *spoiler alert* Erica so easily accepts Jack’s child with another woman. Due to this only I took half a star away and my rating for this book was 3.5 stars on Goodreads.

Book 2: Love Uncovered 

This book had a lot more background story to it as compared to the first one. I felt like the characters had more depth in them and it was interesting to read how they became as they were. This one is about Brooke and Nicholas. These two were already introduced in the first book. To be honest I was hoping for the second story to be about Brooke and Tom but Nicholas was just simply better for Brooke. This one also does make you laugh but it has a more serious tone as compared to the first one. However its still a great summer romance and one should not miss it!

I want to thank Laura for sending these books my way. She is such a sweet person and I can’t wait to read the third book. These books are available on Kindle and it you have Kindle Unlimited you can read them for free. Don’t miss them out, you won’t be disappointed.

Until next time readers!

Happy Reading 🙂